It is common belief that we should start each day with a glass of water, but rarely do we question “Why?”. What is the science behind the health benefits? And how much water should we be aiming to drink? By understanding such questions, would we be more likely to take this belief more seriously, and even adopt it into our morning routine.
For many of us, mornings are not the best time to practice incorporating new habits. It is a time to get caught up in a hasty unorganised rush, forgetting to reach for a glass of water altogether, or replacing it for a cup of coffee. This is understandable … after all, coffee wakes us up! Its effects can be felt almost instantly, and we can sugar it up to our heart’s content. Compared to coffee, the effects of drinking water are seemingly less obvious. We know that it hydrates us (especially after a night out), but is there more to morning water than starting the day just not thirsty.
Let’s re-cap why water is generally good for us. It makes up around 70% of our body: carrying oxygen to all our cells, helping fight off illnesses, helping our stomachs digest food and is the main ingredient in perspiration. Not keeping topped-up can cause headaches, fatigue, indigestion, muscle pain, constipation, rapid heartbeat … the list goes on.
Drinking water also plays a critical role in our day-to-day activities. Dehydration impairs our short- and long-term memory, meaning we need to think deeper about simple questions and things to remember. You may have found yourself returning from the local shop without the milk you set off to buy, not realizing that water－or rather lack of it－may have been the culprit!
Short answer: yes! For a lot of us, sleep is the longest period we go in a 24 hour cycle without drinking, and it affects our body. As we sleep, we breathe; as we breathe, we are constantly expelling moisture. This can leave us feeling dehydrated and sometimes a little groggy in the morning. Also, we rely on a constant intake of water to feed our liver. As our hydration levels decrease, so does the water circulating around our body, clearing out waste. As this affects our general health and well-being, it is important to reach for a glass of water as early as possible!
But you may be wondering, “Why before breakfast?”.
Drinking on an empty stomach allows our bodies to process the fluid much more quickly. This sends it around our body, cleaning out our colons, hydrating skin, and energising the muscles and brain much more efficiently. Drinking before eating allows the body to focus on replenishment, allowing the body to return to a state of better functionality before focusing on digestion. It is recommended to wait a full 45 minutes after drinking water to fully reap these benefits, however given most of our schedules are not so accommodating, anything above 15 minutes will also have a positive effect.
Drinking water can speed up our metabolism by as much as 24%. Our metabolism is the rate that our body converts food into energy―the higher it is, the faster our body burns calories during rest. This means our appetites increase, allowing us to eat more and take in more essential nutrients from the food we consume. This sets a positive and healthy tone for the day, allowing us to feel more energetic!
Keeping well refreshed in the morning is also essential for our muscles. Since our muscles are mostly made up of water, drinking water in the morning can help prevent them cramping. Also, water helps us keep the right balance of electrolytes necessary for maintaining and controlling our muscles, especially during periods of little activity, such as spending the day sat down in an office.
If you are prone to acne, or have dry and blotchy skin, drinking water in the morning can provide a healthy dose of skin therapy. After drinking water, the blood flow to your skin improves, reducing wrinkles, visible pores, and clearing up red spots. Not only this, but it stops hair from becoming brittle. Shiny hair and a glowing complexion can do wonders for confidence, helping you start the day in a positive mood!
Having a healthy digestive system is also essential to feeling great during the day. Too many stomach acids in the body can cause heartburn and indigestion. Drinking water counters this, preparing the stomach by balancing out acidity levels. This is another reason drinking before breakfast can be so important, so that when you eat, your stomach can handle digestion much better.
Water plays various roles in maintaining the body at a healthy level and preventing colds. The lymphatic system is about 96% water, meaning that when we our deprived of fluids, our lymphocytes get stagnant and dirty, thus cannot clear the cellular toxic waste. A strong lymphatic system correlates to having a stronger immune system. This means that by consuming water early on, you are more likely to fight off germs as the day progresses.
The ideal amount of water to drink before breakfast differs from person to person. Of course, if you exercise, you will need to drink more; on the contrary, if you are elderly or have a health condition, drinking a lot of water may prove difficult. As a rule of thumb, 640ml is considered a healthy amount to keep your body well-functioning. It should be noted, that drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day is still incredibly important.
While the time of day for drinking water is important to our health and mood, other factors play a decisive role too. For example, the temperature can affect the speed at which water takes effect around the body. Also, the type of water can determine a number of factors relating to how we take care of ourselves.
When changing habits, we often measure the benefits against the effort. For something that takes around 30 seconds to do, it is hard to argue against the wonderful benefits it provides. A great idea is to try incorporating this into your daily routine for 30 days, and see how you feel for yourself! If the effects work to your pleasing, why not encourage friends and family to try it too!